Wesleyan’s Samantha Maldonado takes on traditional recipes and gives them a surprising twist, using creative alternatives from the local food co-ops to recreate tasty treats. Not only does she experiment, but she reviews her cooking techniques, adventures, and misadventures for anybody else who likes to get wild in the Kitchen. 

Let me first say that I think kombucha is disgusting. I know it’s supposed to be natural and cleansing and good for you – and that plenty of people love it, but even the flavored kinds are never sweet enough for it to not taste like vinegar—which is exactly why I thought it would be useful in a cake recipe to react with baking soda. Maybe even a birthday cake recipe.

After scouring the Internet and coming up with very few results, I found this recipe for chocolate cake.

Chocolate Kombucha Cake


1 1/2 cups organic white whole wheat flour

1 cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons cocoa

1/4 teasopoon salt

1/4 cup Karma Kombucha (any flavor)

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3/4 cup warm water

6 Tablespoons organic canola oil



1. Preheat oven to 350 Farenheit

2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients.

4. Stir to blend until well mixed.

5. Pour into a greased or coated 8 or 9 inch square pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
In my mind, a chocolate cake, even with kombucha, felt boring to me, so I decided to make a chocolate chai cake.  I used ginger flavored kombucha and added 1 teaspoons of cinnamon, .5 teaspoons of cardamom, .5 teaspoon of ground ginger, and .5 teaspoons of nutmeg.

For the icing, I mixed about .5 tablespoons of melted butter with ¼ cup of warm water (I should have used less), some vanilla extract, some cinnamon and ground ginger, and lots of powdered sugar.


I was nervous as the cake was cut and I realized that a birthday party may not have been the most wisely chosen opportunity to test out an experimental recipe.  Luckily, I only received positive feedback.  The chai spices accented the chocolate flavor so that it wasn’t overpowering, and the icing was light enough to complement the cake itself.  The cake pictured is the result of me doubling the whole recipe—although it was reduced to half in the first five minutes after blowing out the candles.

-Sam Maldonado ’13